Award winner Sofiene Jerbi

The theoretical physicist Sofiene Jerbi of Hans Briegel’s research group at the Department for Theoretical Physics at the University of Innsbruck has been awarded the IQOQI Dissertation Prize 2023. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the prize. Endowed with 1,000 euros, it is awarded as a recognition of young researchers for their outstanding scientific achievements in the field of quantum physics. We warmly congratulate Mr. Jerbi on this success!

In his dissertation Sofiene Jerbi explores the speed-ups that quantum computers can provide to reinforcement learning algorithms. This branch of machine learning has seen incredible developments in the last decade, with notable achievements being artificial agents that defeat word champions in complex games such as Go or chess. Yet, these algorithms remain very computationally costly. In his thesis, Sofiene Jerbi shows how quantum algorithms can be leveraged to speed-up such learning algorithms. He also proposes new designs for learning algorithms that can be made compatible with quantum devices in the near term, and are ultimately capable of achieving an exponential learning advantage over classical counterparts in the long term. These results pave the way for quantum computers to help solve practical problems in all fields of science and technology through enhanced artificial intelligence.

Award for outstanding achievements

The IQOQI Dissertation Prize is presented to promising young physicists for their outstanding achievements in the field of quantum physics. Endowed with a prize money of 1,000 euros, it recognizes excellent research of graduates of PhD or doctoral studies at the University of Innsbruck. We are happy to this year present Sofiene Jerbi of Hans Briegel’s research group with the prize for his dissertation “Reinforcement learning in the quantum domain”, submitted in December 2022. The award ceremony will take place on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

About the awardee

Sofiene Jerbi studied computer science at the Institut Mines-Telecom in France, and completed his Engineering Degree in 2018 with his thesis “On the quantum speed-up of Markov chain Monte Carlo methods for reinforcement learning”. In 2019, he began his doctoral studies in the research group of Hans Briegel at the Department for Theoretical Physics of the University of Innsbruck. His research results are summarized in the dissertation “Reinforcement learning in the quantum domain”. Since spring 2023, Mr. Jerbi has been working as a Postdoctoral researcher in the group of Jens Eisert at the Free University of Berlin. He still explores the prospects of quantum machine learning algorithms, both in the near and long term.